I'm sort of a new cartoonist. That is, I spent a couple years away from drawing seriously, and I didn't really get very far before that. I'm getting better at drawing characters, but I'm trying to get better at drawing backgrounds, which has long been troublesome for me. I know the basic rules of perspective and all that, but I need a way to make sure my scenes are drawing in proportion. any tips, guys?
Part of the basic rules of perspective is learning how to measure proportion as you build up grids and basic shapes to determine the composition of the environment you're trying to build. With practice, it gets a lot easier.
One thing I always suggest to people who want to improve backgrounds is to stop thinking of them as "backgrounds"... it's not just a setting to lay the characters against as if they were on a stage, it's an environment in which they exist. Be conscious of the details around you as you pass through your day, and then try to incorporate them into your illustrations as needed. For instance, when I see someone illustrate an intersection on a city street, it's not uncommon for them to forget little things like trash cans, mailboxes, street signals, rain grates, manholes, bus stops, benches, and litter... not just scraps of paper blowing about, but cigarette butts and discarded paper cups and maybe the occasional lost shoe. Power lines and phone lines and cable lines and transformers and junction boxes and advertisements and lost dog signs stuck to telephone poles, all of these things make up the background noise of your average modern urban environment, and to forget any of them tends to leave the environment your characters exist in somewhat... lacking.
My 2 cents on drawing backgrounds here bud:
1. The more you plan the background in the roughs, the easier the finishes will be - i.e the less you're having to think about scale and perspective in the final pencils, the more you can focus on the rendering and detail.
2. Be methodical - A detailed and realistic background is going to take time to get right, so make sure you have a solid layout and then leave yourself enough time on the page to do as much justice to the environment as you have done to the characters (how many books have we seen where the characters are rendering amazingly, only to have a very flat, dull background?) Build it up from shapes to lineart with detail, then do another pass and detail more, add textures - a reader will only ever tell it's brick or concrete when you tell them with rendering!
3. InkThinker is right on the money with observation being a key asset to good backgrounds. Realism, or certainly a level of believabilty (even applies to fantasy/scifi stuff) is key to selling the background as an actual environment inwhich your characters interact. If in doubt, get out with a digital camera and snap some shots, keep magazine clippings or just google image search city photos as reference. I've got a ring binder full of images I've stored over the past couple of years that's full of print outs or magazine clippings I've hoarded.
I hope this has helped, I've rambled a bit but hey!
is there anyway we could get a example of a thumbnail of building up the background for a panel or page..these "basic" shapes your talking about.. thatd be awesome
How does the grid thing work, exactly? It's perplexing to me.
Originally Posted by Inkthinker